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Most Reliable Rangefinder?
Old 08-04-2010   #1
jljohn
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Most Reliable Rangefinder?

With the host of recent threads bemoaning camera repairs, I was wondering: What the is most reliable Rangefinder? For clarification, I am not wondering which rangefinder will still be going strong in 100 years with regular service (thereby leaving you without one while it is serviced.) Instead, I am wondering which rangefinder is least likely to need service for any issue (other than an expected alignment as we are discussing rangefinders) during its lifespan. I know that any mechanical unit can malfunction, but what is the least likely to spontaneously malfunction without good cause?

Any takers?

Jeremy

Last edited by jljohn : 08-04-2010 at 10:29. Reason: Clarification
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Old 08-04-2010   #2
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My Olympus XA seems to be constructed quite easily and itís working for about 25 years now (although Iím younger than that , it was my mothers one). Although light may come into the body as the light seals are quite down, I shot two rolls with her and didnít have any problems. Iím pretty optimistic with her.
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Old 08-04-2010   #3
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Leica M2 - no meter, no batteries, finely constructed, built to last. I even accidentally dropped mine on the sidewalk from waist level - a three foot drop, maybe, and no damage. Not even a mis aligned rangefinder.
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Old 08-04-2010   #4
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Any Barnack that's been serviced in fact and I would agree with Jim above. I have never had any issues with my Canon's that have been serviced either but I would have to vote for the early Leicas if I had to name just one.
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Old 08-04-2010   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ray*j*gun View Post
Any Barnack that's been serviced in fact and I would agree with Jim above. I have never had any issues with my Canon's that have been serviced either but I would have to vote for the early Leicas if I had to name just one.
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Old 08-04-2010   #6
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Steve Gandy says that the Canon VT/VT Deluxe are more reliable than the Leica Ms
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Old 08-04-2010   #7
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I know they're not in the same league w/ Leicas, but in my personal experience the Bessa R, R2, R3 etc are the most dependable. All of the Leica M cameras I've owned were starting to show the results of being made 50 years ago or more. Excellent design, quality materials and fine craftsmanship, but nothing goes on forever. They also have a cloth shutter that can be destroyed by simply leaving a lens cap off at the wrong time.
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Old 08-04-2010   #8
John Lawrence
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Of all the rangefinder cameras I've owned, those that have been the most reliable have been my Leicas: specifically, M2, M6TTL and Barnacks.

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Old 08-04-2010   #9
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The Nikon SP with the Titanium shutter would have to contend with the M2/3 for the title of most reliable. It is, basically, a Nikon F in rangefinder form (I like to think of the F as a SP in SLR form!).
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Old 08-04-2010   #10
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I have Weltinis from the 30s that are still going strong.
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Old 08-04-2010   #11
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Canon P is very reliable indeed. My camera repair guys tell me that its mechanics are "Leica standard". Canon VT might be even more rugged if Mr. Gandy says so.
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Last edited by Mablo : 08-04-2010 at 11:00.
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Old 08-04-2010   #12
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I had a canon P but I did not like it. I did not have it long enough to decide maybe but wrinkled shutter and constantly misaligning rangefinder gave me bad feelings about this camera...
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Old 08-04-2010   #13
rbsinto
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The only people who could possibly supply meaningful answers to Jeremy and Janice's question would be repair persons. Literally everyone else is speaking only from personal experience with a small set of examples, plus anecdotal information which they have gleaned from various sources.
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Old 08-04-2010   #14
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my answer is both unpopular and easily dismissed: electronic cameras are generally more reliable.

leica m7, zeiss ikon, hexar rf, bessa, minolta cle, etc.
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Old 08-04-2010   #15
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Over the years I've owned, at various times, a Leica M4-P, M4-2, II, IIIa and IIf. None of them have broken, despite a reasonably heavy amount of use (except the bent rewind on my M4-2 when I dropped it on a hard surface - "field repaired" it with the pliers on my Leatherman), and I couldn't pretend to know which is most or least reliable. All of them have been fantastically solid and well built and, in my opinion, the extent to which individual bodies have been used or abused over the years is far more significant (among the Leicas - and I know your question extends beyond Leica) than any debate about which camera was originally best built . YMMV.
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Old 08-07-2010   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
my answer is both unpopular and easily dismissed: electronic cameras are generally more reliable.

leica m7, zeiss ikon, hexar rf, bessa, minolta cle, etc.
I wouldn't argue with this at all.

Given the same use and care, the electronically-contolled gizmos will hold accurate shutter speed and aperture settings without adjustments much longer than mechanically-controlled devices. Seems like the parts that fail on electronic cameras are usually the mechanical ones.

'Course there has to be a readily available power source.
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Old 08-07-2010   #17
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No question about it, the Nikon S3-SP is the most reliable under the OP's parameters. As abovesaid, a Nikon F without a prism-designed to run dy, or almost dry. Leicas are fantastic, but generally do need service more often-designed to be lubed.
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Old 08-07-2010   #18
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Contax G2 - maybe not STRICTLY a rangefinder but I bought mine new 16 years ago and it's never so much as hinted at a repair, cla, problem etc.
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Old 08-07-2010   #19
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Konica I. There are no interlocks, no bellows, and no cloth.

Last edited by Ranchu : 08-07-2010 at 10:00.
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Old 08-07-2010   #20
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My Zorki 4K has given me years of trouble-free service.








as a paperweight.
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Old 08-07-2010   #21
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Quote:
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My Zorki 4K has given me years of trouble-free service.


as a paperweight.
But you have a Vitessa.



And papers need holding down...
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Old 08-07-2010   #22
ferider
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M6 & Canon P. Once you use a different rewind crank, the M6 is more sturdy than any Leica before or after.
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Old 08-07-2010   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman View Post
... 'Course there has to be a readily available power source.
The OP specified 100 years from now. How likely is it that the same battery voltage and format will be available in 100 years?
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Old 08-07-2010   #24
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he said the opposite.
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I agree
Old 08-07-2010   #25
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I agree

about the M6. If I didn't have a backup, I'd get the tools and a spare washer around to carry with it on trips.

The M6TTL (and MP) and M7 have more advanced/complex meters, but also break more frequently.

Quote:
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M6 & Canon P. Once you use a different rewind crank, the M6 is more sturdy than any Leica before or after.
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Old 08-07-2010   #26
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Quote:
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Contax G2 - maybe not STRICTLY a rangefinder but I bought mine new 16 years ago and it's never so much as hinted at a repair, cla, problem etc.
It *is* a rangefinder and don't let any camera snob tell you otherwise!
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Old 08-07-2010   #27
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my m2

rugged and hardy.
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Old 08-07-2010   #28
Brian Sweeney
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The Nikon Rangefinders get my vote, the SP and S3 being the most likely to just keep on working properly. Those with Titanium foil shutters are even better.
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Old 08-07-2010   #29
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Any post S2 Nikon RF takes the cake. After that, any Barnack Leica with a good curtain.
My $.02
**still drooling over a Nikon S2 with 50mm f/1.4, but just can't buy it yet**

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Old 08-07-2010   #30
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The Argus C-3 is awfully dependable, due I suppose to its simple design and heavy construction. If lens sharpness isn't an issue just reliability.
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Old 08-08-2010   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogman View Post
I wouldn't argue with this at all.

Given the same use and care, the electronically-contolled gizmos will hold accurate shutter speed and aperture settings without adjustments much longer than mechanically-controlled devices. Seems like the parts that fail on electronic cameras are usually the mechanical ones.

'Course there has to be a readily available power source.
My Canon FTb (not a rangefinder) that I bought new in '71 has had hundreds and hundreds of rolls through it. I had it checked less than two years ago and its shutter speeds were "dead on" as my repair guy said. It has never had a CLA with probably over 100K shutter actuations. BUt I take care of my equipment. I have seen highly abused Canons, Nikons, and Leicas that have failed. I didn't know their history. You don't really know what how used equipment was treated before you bought it.

Any top end mechanical camera, when cared for will last for many years. My guess is that the Leicas, Nikons, and Canons would comprise the core of that group.

The problem is that you can't buy most of these cameras new. You don't know their history.
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Old 08-08-2010   #32
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Here on RFF there is a concentration of users of old cameras so you are likely to hear more about things getting broken.

Even a pinhole camera can break if you drop it but my Hexar rf is still ticking nicely after 10 years and my M6 is 25 years old and works great.
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Old 08-08-2010   #33
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Quote:
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he said the opposite.
Reading for content. Like, who does that! Ok, I admit it - I'm a teacher, and I am also a skimmer. Gimme an F.
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Old 08-08-2010   #34
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M2! I will give the edge to my M2 over my MP because of the stuff that can go wrong with internal meter systems. Never had a problem with either camera so far....
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Old 08-09-2010   #35
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What ain't there, can't go wrong. So: any high-quality mechanical leaf-shutter fixed-lens camera with no meter and no delayed action. As long as it's regularly used, it'll last forever: otherwise the shutter gums up. I'd back Konica as the best.

On the other hand, I prefer more versatility, so an M2 wins. I just gave away my Konica IIIS as I hadn't used it in several years.

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Old 08-09-2010   #36
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The M2. It just keeps going and going.
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Old 08-09-2010   #37
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Old Voigtlšnder Vitomatics and Vitorets seem to be extremely reliable. I have some 15 different models, they don 't see much use, which is a pity, but when I pick one up and run a film through it everything is working. Same thing when I find one at a thrift store - hardly ever seen one that did not work (except for some of the selenium meters of course).
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Old 08-09-2010   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbsinto View Post
The only people who could possibly supply meaningful answers to Jeremy and Janice's question would be repair persons. Literally everyone else is speaking only from personal experience with a small set of examples, plus anecdotal information which they have gleaned from various sources.
Using that logic, Consumer Reports is a useless magazine, Angie's List is a valueless service, since these organizations are not run my repairmen? If you were about to buy a Kia autombile and your neighbor warned you about them, as he had one that was always in the shop for repairs, you would of course tell him to buzz off, since he wasn't a mechanic, right? Sorry, that's ridiculous logic.
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Old 08-09-2010   #39
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Well, there are certainly cameras that are less reliable or have known issues. The Olympus 35RD is known to have oily blade problems. The Canonet 17 GIII is known to have jam (and be a pain to get open). Any camera with curtains is known to have issues with holes (depending on when they were last replaced and how it has been treated). From recent experience, a particular soldered connection on Hi Matic 7sIIs looks like it fails from stress eventually.

I think it would be possible to bucket cameras into sets of functionality and identify various ways they could fail. Certain sets of features or design approaches would certainly be more reliable.
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Old 08-09-2010   #40
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Oddly, my Barnack Leicas. Other than sending one of them in once for a CLA (which in retrospect it probably didn't need), they have never failed me yet. Every other rangefinder I have owned has devevloped some problem or other which required repairs.

Maybe it's the K.I.S.S. principle in action?
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